The Best Comic-Book Video Games


Posted July 15, 2010 - By Kevin Kelly

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 The Best Comic-Book Video Games

Everyone knows that one of the quickest ways to doom a game to the bargain bin is to slap the words "Based on the movie!" on the front cover. For some reason, almost every video game made from movies are immediately cursed to suckitude. But thankfully, that's not always the case with comic books. In fact, some upcoming titles based on comics (or their world) look particularly droolworthy. Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions has excited across multiple dimensions, and Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is all over our charts. Then there's Comic Jumper, which is looking like a day one pickup.

So below are some of our favorite comic book video games for you to enjoy or berate us over. And while we're talking comic books, don't forget we'll be working hard from preview night through Sunday covering Comic-Con 2010, live-blogging your favorite panels, schmoozing with the stars and bringing you a little taste of San Diego for those trapped at home. Plus, on July 24th, G4 will be running 4 hours of live coverage from Comic-con, making Saturday the ultimate geek day to remember!


Cheat: X-Men Origins: Wolverine Costume Unlock »

 X-Men Origins: Wolverine

How do you take one of the most popular comic book characters around, put him into a series of very successful and well-done (okay granted, X-Men: The Last Stand sucked) movies, and then give him his own film and have it completely blow chunks? Seriously, if you enjoyed X-Men Origins: Wolverine, then you need to turn in your moviegoing card and stay home and watch Cutlery Corner on cable television, because that's about as much entertainment as you can handle.

However, somehow Raven Software amazingly bucked the trend and churned out a great video game that was in turn based on a craptastic film. I would say that maybe that's the secret to the mix, somehow, but we've seen plenty of bad games based on equally bad movies. But somehow this game nailed the formula, and the game was a lot of fun to play. Sure there are some WTF?! moments like the lava-rock monsters and the blue women who shoot lasers, but the healing factor, unlockable costumes, and gameplay made this extremely enjoyable.


Batman: Arkham Asylum Gadgets Trailer »


Batman: Arkham Asylum

I know, you're probably reading this list and saying "OMG, if G4 doesn't mention Batman: Arkham Asylum, I'm walking and never looking back." Don't worry. We're mentioning it right here. This game blew everyone away, including me. Especially because I remember the eye-bleeding experience that was Batman: Dark Tomorrow. I was so excited to play that game, and then spent hours in a room just rocking myself back and forth and trying to forget it. It still haunts me today, and I'm sure I'm not alone.

So, I was fairly skeptical when I heard a new Batman game was on the way. Every time I heard it mentioned, the image of the cover of Dark Tomorrow would rise up unbidden in my brain and nearly forced me to find a barf bag. But then Arkham Asylum came out and simply blew me away. If this had been released as Batman: The Gadgets and all you did was toss novelty batarangs around, I still would have loved it. Even with the non-stellar ending, this game quickly topped the charts of best comic book video games, and rightly so. And there's a sequel on the way! Which hopefully doesn't suffer from the same lame-ending-itis.

'Freedom Force' (PC) Tips »

Freedom Force

If Jack Kirby came back to life tomorrow and decided to develop video games, they would look exactly like Freedom Force. Artist Tom Scioli expertly apes Jack Kirby's style so well, that you'd swear he'd come back to life anyhow. Just hopefully not as a zombie. A zombie Jack Kirby would be a pretty scary thing, and probably couldn't draw very well. Technically this game wasn't really based on a comic book, since a Freedom Force never existed. Although after the game was published in 2002, they put out a sequel in 2005 called Freedom Force vs. The Third Reich, and Image Comics published a six issue series that told the backstory of the first game. Clever, eh?

This real-time tactical role-playing game has you taking the reins of the Freedom Force themselves, and using their powers to battle baddies. It's all presented in comic book form, and you battle different monsters and baddies in order to keep the streets of Patriot City safe. I know that these are PC titles from more than five years ago, but both titles hit Steam last year, and you can pick up both of them together in the Freedom Force: Freedom Pack for the low price of $7.49. More than worth it.

CHEAT! Marvel Ultimate Alliance »

Marvel Ultimate Alliance

Comic books have always been about team-ups. When Superman and Batman combine forces to make the World's Finest team, it sold a ton of books. And made you wonder why Superman needed to team up with anyone at all besides No-Kryptonite Man. But, besides that, superheroes seek out other superheroes, and teaming up just comes with the territory. Hence the appearance of the Justice League, the X-Men, the Avengers, and even the Teen Titans. In fact, if you're a superhero, and you don't get invited into team, you're doing something wrong. Heck, even the super villains get their own teams.

So someone clearly had this in mind when they were developing this game. Teaming up is what Marvel Ultimate Alliance is as you fight in groups of four. Plus, you can build your own team and stack powers to your advantage. Want to create The Defenders? No problem. Marvel Knights? You got it. Fantastic Four? Flame on. Tons of characters, lots of powers, and you've got yourself another hit from Raven Software, who was also behind the X-Men Legends games.

Know Your Roots: Marvel vs. Capcom Series »

Marvel vs. Capcom

Imagine a video game where you get to shove in a quarter and pit your favorite Marvel comic book heroes against different stars of Capcom's games. Then it migrates over to your home consoles. Then you have yourself the Marvel vs. Capcom series, which is continuing to this very day as we all eagerly await the return in Marvel vs. Capcom3. This is a series that continues to warm the cockles of our hearts, and one reason is attention to detail. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 had Wolverine in it with bone claws, for pete's sake. That's the stuff we geek out on.

But I can't mention this series, without talking about the next game. It might get some hate, because it was far from perfect (as our own review states), but it holds a very special place in my game collection. Maybe I need to start a "Games of Shame: The Games We Love To Play, But Shouldn't" column to highlight embarrassing choices like this one.

Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe: Scorpion vs. The Flash Video »

Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe

This is it. The game that I sometimes hide behind a copy of Velvet Assassin. Why? Well, it had some problems. And it's a truly bizarre story. But, this is the only game I've found that lets me assume control over my favorite DC character, Captain Marvel. That's right, the Big Red Cheese himself. People usually love Superman when it comes to overpowered cape-wearers, but I've always had a soft spot for the kid who gets to shout SHAZAM! and change into a superhero. Who didn't have that fantasy when they were in elementary school? Now you get to call down the lightning in a video game, which sadly doesn't allow you to try and fight as Billy Batson. That might have been amusing.

Problems aside, the only thing in my mind that is really lacking in this game is brutal fatalities. I mean, Superman should be able to rip arms off and beat people with them, and The Flash should be able to run through an opponent and leave a hole shaped just like his silhouette right through their flesh. What gives? 

Have something to share? Have an idea for a feature you'd like to see on G4? E-mail me. You can also follow me on Twitter.

The Best Comic-Book Video Games


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